Speaking out, staying silent

Recently the way some people (mostly women) are subject to abuse and threats on Twitter has been put into public focus. It started when Caroline Criado-Perez revealed she had been subject to shocking threats (including rape and death threats) simply for campaigning to have a leading female historical figure on a Uk bank note (which led to Jane Austen being chosen as the face of the next £10 note).

This post isn’t the place to go through the full trail of events. If you’ve found this blog then you probably already know the story, and if not there are better places to find out what happened. Instead I want to focus on how we should all respond when people use social media platforms to threaten others.

Use your voice

Shortly after Caroline went public over the abuse she endured (and continues to endure) there was debate over how Twitter the company and people who use their service should respond. What is the best way to stop the threats?

Trolls don’t run the internet; neither do abusive men who issue rape threats to get women to shut up. We are the majority. And if we stand firm, and shout back as one, we will win. I hope you’ll join me in shouting back.

Caroline Criado-Pirez

Free, as in beer.

A side note to the threat debate is the categorisation of Twitter, and other social networks, as free speech platforms. They aren’t. They are commercial entities run by companies to make profits (potential profits in some cases). They may have lax rules on what peopple can say using their services but do not for one second think of them as free speech platforms.

When you use a social network you are playing by its rules. If it decides there are things you can’t say, then go and find another platform that will allow you.


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